Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bright? I think it's brilliant.

Out of the soup of information online that I'm usually semi-immersed in (honestly, it's part of my job) comes this link from Bicycles 4 Humanity, to a Ghanaian organization called the Bright Generation Foundation.

I found a picture of a bamboo bike a while back and posted it here: at the time I thought of it as a high-end, performance bike sort of thing. It looked cool, and certainly lightweight, and all I had was the picture, with no back story or anything. I hadn't seen anything about where the bamboo frame had come from: turns out it was one of these, produced in Ghana. The Bright Generation Foundation runs a project that manufactures bamboo bicycles because bamboo is much more abundant and cheap to use than any other materials, and there is a lot of bamboo in Ghana. It grows fast, is cheap to grow, is renewable, and produces tough, inexpensive bikes for use on Ghanaian roads (and I've already written about the advantage of bikes for people in rural parts of Africa.) Production of the bikes promotes bamboo growing as a cottage industry and provides employment as well as affordable transportation. Plus, they're looking into exporting the frames to North America, through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and reinvesting the proceeds into anti-poverty and environmental groups back in Ghana. How awesome is that?

The organization also provides organized sports for social change among youth, trains women in organic farming, and runs a women's microfinance project.

Ah, it's things like this that remind me how much bigger bikes can be than just a form of transportation. There are so many groups out there using bikes to do so much more than get people from place to place.

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